POLI SCI 106 Chapter 2-3: Week Two Readings: States, Nations, and Ideologies

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Treating the Islamic State as a State
By: Mike Pietrucha
U.S. tendency is to treat the Islamic State as an insurgency, instead of a state-like entity
Acknowledging the entity would lead to change in application of US airpower
Counterinsurgency strategies aim to avoid collateral damage of the “friendly state” (Iraq)
The Islamic State
The state is kleptocracy, but a governing state nonetheless
Key difference between an insurgency and functioning government = legitimacy
The Islamic State has claimed itself as a long-dormant caliphate
Declaration of a caliphate requires geographic boundaries
Pressure Points
Islamic State = falling short of goal to act as a state
Medical care, electricity, oil, and education are all incredibly scarce and on the decline
Collapse of oil industry lead to failure of ability to utilize resources
Capital al Raqqah largely hydroelectric
Local arms manufacturing = critical element of economic independence
May be potential interdiction opportunity
Outcomes
Syrian opposition= too fragmented to allow any alternative to emerge
Best case scenario= disruption of economic, transportation, and production functions so
severe that the state is ungovernable
In order to establish a caliphate, jihadists must control territories
In order to cause the State to collapse, the US must deprive the Islamic State of tools for
maintaining even a limited government
Essentials of Comparative Politics- Chapters 2 & 3
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Chapter 2- States
Defining the State
State- The organization that maintains a monopoly of violence over a territory
Sovereignty- The ability to carry out actions and policies within a territory independent
of external actors and internal rivals
A state needs power (physical, among others) to defend its territory from outside actors
like other states
A set of institutions that seeks to wield the most force within a territory, establishing
order and deterring challengers from inside and out
A state is made up of a large number of institutions that are engaged in the process of
turning political ideas into policies
Serves as a set of institutions that society deems necessary to achieve basic goals
Regime- The fundamental rules and norms of politics
Embodies long term goals that guide the state with regard to individual freedom and
collective equality, where power should reside, and how power should be used
Democratic regimes rules and norms give the public a large role in governance, as well as
certain individual rights and liberties
Nondemocratic regimes limit public participation and favors those in powers
Most rules that distinguish regimes are informal, unwritten, and implicit
Most revolutions can be seen as revolts against the current regime- to overthrow the old
rules and norms and replace them with new ones
Government- The leadership that runs the state
Least institutionalized
Country- The combined political entities (state, regime, government) and the people who live
within the political system
The Origins of Political Organization
Human organization existed some 200,000 years ago
Likely organized by family and tribe (a few 100 in Africa)
Hobbes- “Human beings voluntarily submitted to political authority to overcome anarchy, which
ensures neither freedom nor equality. In return for giving up many of their rights, people gained
security people gained security and a foundation upon which to build a civilization”
Rousseau- “Human beings were in essence “noble savages” who were instinctively
compassionate and egalitarian. It was a civilization and a political organization.”
Despite varying viewpoints, most agree that sovereignty emerged through a “social contract”
between rulers and ruled
Complex organizations began to emerge about 8,000 years ago in the Middle East
Two paths of political organization
1) Consensus- Individuals band together to protect themselves and create
common rules; leadership chosen from among people. Security through
cooperation (Democratic rule)
2) Coercion- Individuals are brought together by a ruler, who imposes authority
and monopolizes power. Security through domination (Authoritarian rule)
The Rise of the Modern State
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